Tensions have been running high in the lead-up to Russia’s Mar. 4 presidential election since current Prime Minister Vladmir Putin announced his intention to run.
The Russian constitution dictates that no one may serve as president for more than two consecutive terms, and Putin had reached this limit before running for prime minister. Having now fulfilled the prime minister’s two-term limit, he will run again for president — while Russia’s current president, Dmitry Medvedev, is contending for Putin’s current position.
Last week, Putin’s office released information surrounding a foiled assassination attempt.
According to Russian and Ukrainian intelligence services, a group was preparing to assassinate Putin using a remote anti-tank mine in early February. An explosion in an Odessa apartment wounded one assassin and killed another. Originally mistaken as a natural gas explosion, the mistake was made when the assassins were preparing mines.
Critics are speculating that the decision by Putin’s government to withhold this information may have been a deliberate act of political showmanship.
Some speculate that the disclosure of this information at such a critical time was part of a deliberate ploy to appeal to nationalism for political strength. In an article that ran last week in the Telegraph, Dmitry Oreshkin accused Putin of “trying an old trick to mobilise public opinion using the logic: ‘Enemies are all around us. We have just one decisive, effective, clever national leader who they are trying to destroy.’”
Oreshkin’s allegations appear to underscore deep-seated suspicions of dirty tricks in the Russian electoral process.
According to the Moscow Times, thousands of Russians have volunteered to monitor the upcoming election.
This comes hot on the heels of unexpected and widespread protests of the lack of electoral transparency. Already, opposition are planning post- election protests.
Putin has dismissed these plans, suggesting that the opposition cannot predict the outcome of the election with any degree of certainty. Experts do agree that a Putin victory looks likely at this point.
Putin has garnered media attention after an ominous warning about opposition parties’ intentions after a victory. He has suggested that they might go so far as to assassinate one of their own leaders in order to frame Putin and draw suspicions on his regime.
According to numerous sources, Putin is deliberately trying to associate his opposition with western intervention, suggesting that their long term aim is to weaken Russia and to serve Western interests.
Russian Channel 1 made a point of noting that the assassin detained by Russian authorities has lived for an extended period in London.
Russians went to the polls on Mar. 4. As of publication, Putin is polling at 60% approval.
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